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In this issue, we present the second part of a series by John Hay in which he discusses the efforts of Small Island States to build on their capabilities to implement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He identifies the challenges that face these countries through a perspective based on his extensive work on climate change in the Pacific, his participation in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments and his presence at the Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

Sari Kovats and Mark Cresswell report on recent studies which have focused on the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon – the warming of the tropical Pacific and the related climate disruption – on human health. In particular, they outline the potential benefits of seasonal forecasting.

Dave Hubbel questions the manner in which “development” has taken place in mainland Southeast Asia. He suggests that modes of development should be defined and determined by the local communities of these countries rather than being imposed by outside interests and, if development indicators are used, they should be directly related to local economic activity and not, primarily, to the global market economy.

The Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-5) to the UNFCCC will begin in late October 1999 in Bonn, Germany. Lavanya Rajamani presents a synthesis of progress from the Kyoto Protocol to the Buenos Aires Plan of Action and the Subsidiary Body meetings held in Bonn in June. She also summarizes key unresolved issues and considers what to expect from COP-5.

Finally, we report on a new study by Population Action International, detailing the linkages between population policies and forest resource management.

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